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AO qualifying: Holt's entry into main draw "feels so good"

  • Alex Sharp

With a number of fans circling for a selfie, there is a sense Brandon Holt is a star in the making.

Former doubles world No.1 Pam Shriver joined the huddle; “I’ve joined the Brandon Holt fan club,” she quipped before snapping a picture with her son and Holt.

As Holt gathered up his racquets, the smile from completing qualifying stretched from cheek to cheek.

RESULTS: AO qualifying Day 4

DRAW: Australian Open 2023 men's singles

DRAW: Australian Open 2023 women's singles

Rewind to the US Open and the former college tennis standout used his qualifying wildcard to reach the main draw and then toppled No.10 seed Taylor Fritz in the first round on his tour-level debut.

The footage pinged around social media, Holt celebrating with his mother, former world No.1 Tracy Austin, with friends and family going wild.

Over to Melbourne and the 24-year-old is at it again. A comprehensive 6-3, 6-0 scoreboard over Marco Trungelliti means it’s six major qualifying matches, zero defeats. 

Holt is taking it all in his stride. 

“It feels amazing. Six for six in qualifying for Grand Slams, which is pretty crazy,” he said.

“It’s a different feeling than the US Open, that was closer to home, a lot of family there. This is just as special, earning my way in without a wildcard, passing them all. It feels so good.

“To qualify for a second Grand Slam in a row is pretty special.”

The Court 12 crowd had a group of vocal Argentinian fans roaring on Trungelliti. Unfazed, already accustomed to the major stage, Holt is relishing these kind of situations. 

“I think in the pressure moments I did pretty well, especially today with a lot of fans cheering against me,” said the world No.216.

“Having a college tennis background was hugely helpful in matches like this, every point win or lose they were so loud for my opponent."

AO qualifying: Vandeweghe targeting top 100 return

Holt described his US Open heroics as a “double-edged sword” for ramping up the pressure on his side, but it also gives him a blueprint to follow in Melbourne.

“You know you can do it no matter what the score is,” maintained the 24-year-old. 

“I was down a set and 3-0 in the first match here and I was down the same score in the first round quailes at the US Open. Just knowing I’ve come back from that exact situation was a huge boost.”

Since the US Open the American has been stop-start with a shoulder injury. Having shaken that off, Holt feels he can do some damage in the main draw.

“For sure. I feel like my level is here again. I had a great off season at the USTA centre in Carson [California], I’m glad to be back healthy and playing well,” he added.

“Everyone is good, so anything can happen.”

The stars and stripes were celebrating once again when Ernesto Escobedo chalked up his third Australian Open main draw, edging past No.11 Pavel Kotov

American compatriot Michael Mmoh’s qualifying journey was halted by Australian Aleksandar Vukic. There was another home hurrah as Max Purcell launched into the main draw with a commanding win over No.22 seed Matteo Arnaldi.

Australian wildcard Tristan Schoolkate fought valiantly before former world No.29 Jan-Lennard Struff emerged the victor, meanwhile TikTok expert Zizou Bergs earned his Australian Open debut with a 6-1 6-2 triumph over Bulgarian Adrian Andreev

The charismatic Belgian, backwards cap and hot shot antics included, is reaping the benefits of wiping a clean slate Down Under.

“It feels great, it’s just sinking in,” Bergs told

Czech youngster Dalibor Svrcina fell to the ground in celebration having navigated past promising Swiss Leandro Riedl to book his maiden major main draw. 

There was another shock for the Swiss as Frenchman Enzo Couacaud stole the clutch moments 7-6(2) 7-6(7) over the net from No.12 seed Dominic Stricker.